The Department of Labour has announced that it is in the process of developing an online system to help analyse data submitted by employers when applying for national minimum wage exemptions.
Speaking at a briefing session in East London on Thursday, the Department of Labour’s director of collective bargaining, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, said that the exemptions cover employers who can demonstrate that they are not able to pay the national minimum wage.
Exemptions are not new – as the department was currently dealing with them on sectoral determinations – but Mkalipi warned employers that there were serious consequences in the case of misrepresentation of facts.
This follows concerns by business, particularly smaller companies and those in rural areas, that the new minimum wage could actually lead to job losses as they could not afford the wage increases.
Mkalipi said the national minimum wage was ultimately an outcome of a compromise.
“There are things in this Bill that business does not like, and there are things in this Bill that labour does not like.
“This Bill is an outcome of a compromise. It is an agreement of win-win and lose-lose for all parties. At Nedlac we managed to strike a balance in that while we do not destroy jobs we also save jobs,” he said.
The national minimum wage is set for implementation from 1 May 2018, with the national minimum wage pegged at R20 an hour for major sectors, with the exception of sectors such as farm workers, domestic workers and Expanded Public Works Programme workers.
According to the National Minimum Wage Bill, employers may not pay wages that are below the minimum wage and the national minimum wage cannot be varied by contract, collective agreement or law.
As such it constitutes a term of the worker’s contract except to the extent that the contract provides for a more favourable wage.
The Bill further states that it is unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment in implementing the national minimum wage.